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  • The writer of this Gospel was Mark, also called John (Acts 12:25), the son of one of the Marys (who was close to the apostle Peter in the church at Jerusalem — Acts 12:12) and the cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10). He accompanied Barnabas and Saul in their ministry (Acts 12:25) and joined Paul in the first journey of his ministry to the Gentiles; but he left Paul and turned back at Perga (Acts 13:13). Because of his turning back, Paul refused to take him on his second journey. At that time Barnabas separated himself from Paul, and Mark then joined Barnabas in his work (Acts 15:36-40). However, Mark was close to Paul in Paul's later years (Col. 4:10; Philem. 1:24) and was useful to him for his ministry until Paul's martyrdom (2 Tim. 4:11). He was close to Peter and was probably with him continually, as seen in the fact that Peter considered him his son (1 Pet. 5:13). From the early days of the church his Gospel has been considered a written account of the oral presentation of Peter, who accompanied the Savior in His gospel service from its beginning (vv. 16-18) to its end (Mark 14:54, 66-72). Mark's record is according to historical sequence and gives more details concerning the historical facts than the other Gospels. The entire Gospel is summarized in Peter's word in Acts 10:36-42.

    John presents the God-Savior, emphasizing the Savior's deity in His humanity. Matthew presents the King-Savior; Mark, the Slave-Savior; and Luke, the Man-Savior. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are synoptic in portraying the Savior's humanity in different aspects, with His deity. Since Mark presents the Savior as a slave, he does not tell His genealogy and status, because the ancestry of a slave is not worthy of note. Furthermore, in contrast to Matthew, who presents to us the Savior's marvelous teachings and parables concerning the heavenly kingdom, and John, who presents His profound revelations of divine truths, Mark's intention is not to impress us with the Slave's wonderful words but with His excellent deeds in His gospel service. Mark's Gospel provides more detail than the other Gospels in order to portray the Slave-Savior's diligence, faithfulness, and other virtues in the saving service He rendered to sinners for God. In Mark's Gospel are the fulfillment of the prophecies in Isa. 42:1-4, 6-7; 49:5-7; 50:4-7; 52:13-15; 53:1-12 concerning Christ as the Slave of Jehovah, and the details of the teaching in Phil. 2:5-11 regarding Christ as the Slave of God. His diligence in labor, His need of food and rest (Mark 3:20-21; 6:31), His anger (Mark 3:5), His groaning (Mark 7:34), and His affection (Mark 10:21) display beautifully His humanity in its virtue and perfection, while His lordship (Mark 2:28), His omniscience (Mark 2:8), His miraculous power, and His authority to cast out demons (v. 27; 3:15), to forgive sins (Mark 2:7, 10), and to silence the wind and the sea (Mark 4:39) manifest in full His deity in its glory and honor. What a Slave of God! How lovely and admirable! Such a Slave served sinners as their Slave-Savior, with His life as their ransom (Mark 10:45), for the fulfillment of the eternal purpose of God, whose Slave He was.

  • I.e., glad tidings, good news (Rom. 10:15). The gospel is the service (ministry) of the Slave-Savior as a Slave of God serving His people. Matthew begins with the kingly generations of Christ the King (Matt. 1:1-17); Luke, with a human genealogy of Jesus the man (Luke 3:23-38); and John, with the eternal origin of the Son of God (John 1:1-2); whereas Mark begins not with the origin of His person but with the beginning of the gospel, the service of Jesus as a lowly Slave of God (Phil. 2:7; Matt. 20:27-28). As a rule, the service, not the person, of a slave is notable. See note Matt. 1:11.

  • This Gospel is a biography of the Slave-Savior, who was God incarnated as a Slave to save sinners. In this compound title, Jesus Christ denotes His humanity and the Son of God, His deity, both of which were adequately expressed by His human virtues and divine attributes in His ministry and move for His gospel service, as recorded in this Gospel.

  • Some MSS omit, the Son of God.

  • The beginning of the gospel of the Slave-Savior was even as it is written in Isaiah concerning the ministry of John the Baptist. This indicates that John's preaching of the baptism of repentance was also a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It terminated the dispensation of law and replaced it with the dispensation of grace. Hence, the dispensation of grace began with the ministry of John, before the ministry of the Slave-Savior.

  • Jehovah of hosts (Mal. 3:1).

  • The same Greek word as for angel. So in Rev. 1:20.

  • Jesus Christ's.

  • Lit., furnish. The preaching of the baptism of repentance (v. 4) paved the way for the Slave-Savior to come to sinners (Luke 1:76).

  • The ministry of the gospel of the Slave-Savior began with only a voice, not with a great movement.

  • The preaching of the gospel of the Slave-Savior began not in any center of civilization but in the wilderness, beyond the influence of human culture. See note Matt. 3:31 and note Matt. 3:12b.

  • Lit., make ready. To prepare the way of the Lord is to change people's mind, turning their mind toward the Slave-Savior, and to make their heart right, straightening every part of their heart through repentance, that the Slave-Savior may enter into them to be their life and take possession of them (Luke 1:17).

  • I.e., appeared.

  • John was born a priest (Luke 1:8-13, 57-63); hence, he should have lived a priestly life in the temple, doing the priestly service. But he came to the wilderness and preached the gospel. This indicates that the age of the priesthood, in which sacrifices were offered to God, had been replaced by the age of the gospel, in which sinners are brought to God that God may gain sinners and that sinners may gain God.

  • Repentance is to change one's mind, turning it to the Slave-Savior, and baptism is to bury the repenting people, terminating them that the Slave-Savior may germinate them by regeneration (John 3:3, 5-6).

  • Or, unto. Repentance with baptism is for, and results in, forgiveness of sins, that the obstacle of man's fall may be removed and man may be reconciled to God.

  • A region with the holy city, the holy temple, and high culture; hence, a region of honor.

  • When people repented through his preaching, John immersed them into the death water to bury them, to terminate them, thus preparing them to be raised up by the Slave-Savior, who germinated them with the Holy Spirit through the confession of their sins. See note Matt. 3:61a.

  • The way John lived signifies that his living and work were altogether in a new dispensation and were not according to the way of the old religion, culture, and tradition. See note Matt. 3:41a.

  • Although John preached a baptism of repentance, the goal of his ministry was a wonderful person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He did not make himself the center of his ministry, as a magnet attracting others to himself. He realized that he was only a messenger sent by Jehovah of hosts to bring people to His Son, Jesus Christ, and to exalt Him as the goal of his ministry.

  • Water signifies death and burial for the termination of the repenting people; the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life and resurrection for the germination of the terminated people. The former was a sign of John's ministry of repentance; the latter, a sign of the Slave-Savior's ministry of life. John buried the repenting people in the death water; the Slave-Savior raised them up that they might be regenerated in the Spirit of His resurrection life. The death water, pointing to and signifying the all-inclusive death of Christ, into which His believers are baptized (Rom. 6:3), buried not only the baptized people but also their sins, the world, and their past life and history (just as the Red Sea buried Pharaoh and the Egyptian army for the children of Israel — Exo. 14:26-28; 1 Cor. 10:2) and separated them from the God-forsaking world and its corruption (just as the flood did for Noah and his family — 1 Pet. 3:20-21). The Holy Spirit, into whom the Slave-Savior baptized those who believed in Him, is the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:9). Hence, to be baptized in the Holy Spirit is to be baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3), into the Triune God (Matt. 28:19), and even into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13), which is joined to Christ in the one Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17). It is through baptism in such a water and in such a Spirit that the believers in Christ are regenerated into the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5, and note John 3:52) into the realm of the divine life and the divine rule, that they may live by the eternal life of God in His eternal kingdom.

  • Galilee was called "Galilee of the Gentiles" and was a region without honor, hence, a despised region (John 7:52 see note Matt. 4:151), and Nazareth was a despised city of that despised region (John 1:46). The lowly Slave of God grew up and came out from that source.

  • As a Slave of God, the Slave-Savior too was baptized, signifying that He was willing to serve God and that He would serve not in man's natural way but through death and resurrection (see note Matt. 3:131b and note Matt. 3:161). Such a baptism was the initiation of His service.

  • Lit., into.

  • Mark's record of a Slave reflects not the splendor of the status of this Slave's person but the diligence of His service. The word immediately is used in his record forty-two times, and one more time in alternate MSS.

  • The heavens being opened to the Slave-Savior signifies that His willing offering of Himself as a Slave to God was well accepted by God, and the Spirit's descending as a dove upon Him signifies that God anointed Him with the Spirit for His service to Him (Luke 4:18-19).

  • Some MSS add, and remaining.

  • After God's acceptance and anointing, the first thing the Spirit did with this Slave of God was to thrust Him into a test to prove His integrity.

  • A time of testing and suffering (Deut. 9:9, 18; 1 Kings 19:8).

  • Satan, the enemy of God, was used for the testing and proving of God's Slave. The animals of the earth, in a negative sense, and the angels from heaven, in a positive sense, also were used for this test.

  • John's imprisonment was a sign of the rejection of the gospel, especially in the region of honor. Hence, the Slave-Savior left that region and returned to the despised region for His service of the gospel. See note Matt. 4:121 and note Matt. 4:151.

    The gospel service was initiated in Judea, the region of honor, by the ministry of the Slave-Savior's forerunner (vv. 1-11); but it was continued in Galilee, the despised region, by the ministry of the Slave-Savior for a period of about three years (1:14—9:50). In contrast to John's record in his Gospel (John 1:29-42; 2:13-25; 3:1-36; 5:1-47 and 7:10—11:57), Mark recorded nothing of the Slave-Savior's ministry in Jerusalem and Judea during that period of time. Mark recorded only the Lord's leaving of Galilee to go to Jerusalem for the last time (Mark 10:1) to accomplish His redemptive work. Then the gospel service was continued by His ministry on the way to Jerusalem and in Jerusalem and its vicinity (10:1—14:42). It was concluded with His redeeming death, His life-imparting resurrection, His ascension for exaltation, and the continuation of His gospel service, carried out by His disciples' preaching to all the creation (14:43—16:20).

  • The Slave-Savior's proclaiming was to announce God's glad tidings to the miserable people in bondage; His teaching (vv. 21-22) was to enlighten the ignorant ones in darkness with the divine light of the truth. His proclaiming implied teaching, and His teaching implied proclaiming (Matt. 4:23). This was the first thing He did in His ministry, and it was the all-embracing structure of His evangelistic service (vv. 38-39; 3:14; 6:12; 14:9; 16:15, 20).

  • Some MSS add, of the kingdom. The gospel of Jesus Christ (v. 1) is the gospel of God (Rom. 1:1) and the gospel of the kingdom of God (cf. Matt. 4:23).

  • cf. Gal. 4:4

  • The kingdom of God is the ruling, the reigning, of God with all its blessing and enjoyment. It is the goal of the gospel of God and of Jesus Christ (see note Mark 4:32 and note Mark 4:263b). To enter into this kingdom, people need to repent of their sins and believe in the gospel that their sins may be forgiven and that they may be regenerated by God to have the divine life, which matches the divine nature of this kingdom (John 3:3, 5). All the believers in Christ can share the kingdom in the church age for their enjoyment of God in His righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). This kingdom will become the kingdom of Christ and of God for the overcoming believers to inherit and enjoy in the coming kingdom age (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5) that they may reign with Christ a thousand years (Rev. 20:4, 6). Then, as the eternal kingdom it will be an eternal blessing of God's eternal life for all God's redeemed to enjoy in the new heaven and new earth for eternity (Rev. 21:1-4; 22:1-5, 14, 17). It was such a kingdom of God that had drawn near and into which the gospel of the Slave-Savior would bring His believers. For this kingdom the Slave-Savior told people to repent and believe in the gospel. See note John 3:33b, note Heb. 12:281a, and note Matt. 5:34b.

  • The Greek word means have a change of mind. To repent is to have a change of mind with regret for the past and a turn for the future. On the negative side, to repent before God is not only to repent of sins and wrongdoings but also to repent of the world and its corruption, which usurp and corrupt people whom God created for Himself, and to repent of our God-forsaking life in the past. On the positive side, it is to turn to God in every way and in everything for the fulfillment of His purpose in creating man. It is a "repentance unto God," and is to "repent and turn to God" (Acts 20:21; 26:20). See note Matt. 3:21a and note Matt. 3:22b.

  • Repentance is mainly in the mind; believing is mainly in the heart (Rom. 10:9). To believe in is to believe into the things in which we believe and to receive into us the things in which we believe. To believe in the gospel is mainly to believe in the Slave-Savior (Acts 16:31), and to believe in Him is to believe into Him (John 3:15-16) and to receive Him into us (John 1:12) that we may be organically united with Him. Such a faith in Christ (Gal. 3:22) is given to us by God through our hearing of the word of the truth of the gospel (Rom. 10:17; Eph. 1:13). This faith brings us into all the blessings of the gospel (Gal. 3:14). Hence, it is precious to us (2 Pet. 1:1). Such a precious faith must be preceded by repentance. See note Mark 16:161a.

  • This is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (v. 1), the gospel of God, and the gospel of the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, with all the processes He passed through (such as incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension) and all the redemptive work He accomplished, is the content of the gospel (Rom. 1:2-4; Luke 2:10-11; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; 2 Tim. 2:8). Hence, the gospel is of Him. The gospel was planned, promised, and accomplished by God (Eph. 1:8-9; Acts 2:23; Rom. 1:2; 2 Cor. 5:21; Acts 3:15), and it is the power of God unto salvation to all the believers (Rom. 1:16) that they may be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:19) and regenerated by Him (1 Pet. 1:3) to be His children (John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:16) and to enjoy all His riches and blessings as their inheritance (Eph. 1:14). Hence, it is the gospel of God. It brings the believers into the realm of the divine ruling that they may participate in the blessings of the divine life in the divine kingdom (1 Thes. 2:12). Hence, it is also the gospel of the kingdom of God. Thus, its full contents are the same as those of the New Testament with all its bequests. When we believe in this gospel, we inherit the Triune God with His redemption, His salvation, and His divine life with its riches as our eternal portion.

  • Referring to an arc-shaped net.

  • cf. John 1:35, 37, 40

  • A synagogue is a meeting place where the Jews read and learn the Holy Scriptures (Luke 4:16-17; Acts 13:14-15).

  • Man's fall into sin broke his fellowship with God, making all men ignorant of the knowledge of God. Such ignorance issued first in darkness and then in death. The Slave-Savior, as the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5), came as a great light to Galilee, the land of darkness, to shine on the people who were sitting in the shadow of death (Matt. 4:12-16). His teaching released the word of light to enlighten those in the darkness of death that they might receive the light of life (John 1:4). The second thing that the Slave of God did in His service as the Slave-Savior to fallen men was to carry out such teaching (Matt. 2:13; 4:1; 6:2, 6, 30, 34; 10:1; 11:17; 12:35; 14:49) to bring people out of the satanic darkness into the divine light (Acts 26:18).

  • Mark4:2;

  • The self-appointed scribes, who by themselves were teaching vain knowledge, had no authority and no power, but this God-authorized Slave, who by God was teaching realities, had not only spiritual power to subdue people but also divine authority to subject people to the divine ruling.

  • Not a fallen angel but a demon (vv. 32, 34, 39; Luke 4:33), a disembodied spirit of one of the living creatures who lived in the preadamic age and were judged by God when they joined Satan's rebellion (see Life-study of Genesis, Message Two). The fallen angels work with Satan in the air (Eph. 2:2; 6:11-12), and these unclean spirits, the demons, move with him on the earth. Both act evilly upon man for the kingdom of Satan. The demons' possession of people signifies Satan's usurpation of man, whom God created for His purpose. The third thing the Slave-Savior, who came to destroy the works of Satan (1 John 3:8), did as a part of His service to God was to cast out these demons from the possessed people (vv. 34, 39; 3:15; 6:7, 13; 16:17) that they might be delivered from Satan's bondage (Luke 13:16), out of Satan's authority of darkness (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13), into God's kingdom (v. 15). Five cases are recorded in this Gospel to illustrate this (vv. 23-27; 5:2-20; 7:25-30; 9:17-27; 16:9).

  • Lit., What to us and to you? (a Hebrew idiom).

  • It was not power but authority that cast out the demon. For His service the Slave-Savior had divine authority not only to teach people (v. 22) but also to cast out demons.

  • This may signify a person's unbridled temper, which is abnormal and intemperate.

  • Sickness issues from sin and is a sign of man's abnormal condition before God because of sin. The fourth thing the Slave-Savior did to rescue the sinners, as another part of His gospel service, was to heal their sick condition physically and spiritually and restore them to normality (v. 34; 3:10; 6:5, 13, 56) that they might serve Him. Nine cases are recorded in this Gospel to illustrate such healing (vv. 30-31, 40-45; 2:3-12; 3:1-5; 5:22-43; 7:32-37; 8:22-26; 10:46-52).

  • First she was healed, then she served.

  • Some MSS read, they knew Him to be Christ.

  • To fellowship with God, seeking God's will and pleasure for His gospel service. The Slave-Savior performed the evangelistic service not by Himself, independent of God and according to His own will, but according to God's will and pleasure by being one with God to fulfill His purpose (see note Mark 1:382).

  • As the Slave of God, the Slave-Savior served God in His gospel to carry out not His own will or the people's proposal but the will of God, who had sent Him (John 6:38; 4:34).

  • A leper portrays a typical sinner. Leprosy is the most contaminating and damaging disease, much more serious than a fever (v. 30), causing its victim to be isolated from God and from men (see note Matt. 8:21b and note Matt. 8:31a). The cleansing of the leper signifies the recovering of the sinner to the fellowship with God and with men. This was the consummating part of the Slave-Savior's gospel service according to the record of this chapter.

    The Slave-Savior's gospel service to God comprised
    1) preaching (vv. 14-15, 38-39) to announce the glad tidings to the miserable people in bondage;
    2) teaching (vv. 21-22) to enlighten the ignorant ones in darkness with the divine light of the truth;
    3) casting out demons (vv. 25-26) to annihilate Satan's usurpation of man;
    4) healing man's sick condition (vv. 30-31) that man might serve the Slave-Savior;
    5) cleansing the leper (vv. 41-42) to recover the sinner to the fellowship with God and with men.
    What a wonderful and excellent work!

  • The Slave-Savior's compassion and willingness, issuing from His love, were dear and precious to the hopeless leper.

  • Showing His sympathy and intimacy toward the miserable leper, whom no one dared to touch.

  • Not only healed (see note Mark 1:311) but cleansed. Like other diseases, leprosy requires healing; like sin (1 John 1:7), it also requires cleansing because of its filthy and contaminating nature.

  • Such a charge, given throughout the record of the Slave-Savior's evangelistic service, is quite striking (Mark 5:43; 7:36; 9:9). It is similar to what was prophesied in Isa. 42:2 concerning His quiet character. He wanted His work to be done within the limits of a move that was absolutely according to God's purpose and that was not promoted by man's excitement and propaganda. See note Mark 8:261.

  • Lit., word.

  • Man's activity, which is according to the natural concept, frustrates the Slave-Savior's service, which is according to God's purpose.

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